After spending all his career so far with Salford Red Devils, Niall Evalds is in unfamiliar territory at Castleford.
Being a new fullback coming to the Jungle, Evalds will fight it out with Gareth O’Brien, who penned his own three-year deal in November last year, for the number one shirt, a battle which the 27-year-old is looking forward to.
“Competition for places is always important in any squad. All the top teams have it and it makes us better players,” argues Evalds.
“You don’t want to get complacent and think you’re guaranteed a spot in the team each week.
“Super League is a long, hard season and you’re going to get injuries.
“For the squad and the team to be able to deal with those injuries and keep everyone on their toes is a good sign.”
Evalds has impressed in recent seasons with both his defensive and attacking game coming in for numerous plaudits. And he is keen to stress that he enjoys both aspects of the game.
“They’re both integral to the game, especially for a fullback.
“As a fullback you need to make sure you’ve got the numbers right in defence and that you have a solid line, which you’re in charge of. I take pride in my defence and being safe at the back “In attack you’ve got to be that extra link, scoring and assisting tries. It’s an important position nowadays and I take great joy from both aspects of my game.”
Though Evalds has only ever been at one club until now, settling in with the Tigers hasn’t been a problem. And it has been made easier by his new team-mates.
“My first impressions are really positive; everyone has made me feel really welcome and they’re a real hard-working bunch of lads, which is what I expected from playing against them in the past.
“I’m just excited to get training more and get into matches with the boys to show what I can do.”
Evalds is keen to show what he can do in order to distinguish him from the successful fullbacks that the Tigers have had in the past.
“Castleford have had some really good fullbacks over the years, and I’m thinking recently of Luke Dorn and Zak Hardaker.
“They’ve been very lucky in that department, but I am my own player and I bring my own style, so I will bring something different.
Evalds is particularly looking forward to taking the field with one player in the Castleford team.
“As a fullback, I’m more involved with the pivots and I can’t wait to get out on the field with Paul McShane.
“You can’t get much better than him, the reigning Man of Steel.
“He’s been one of the best hookers around for a long time and I like to play a bit around the ruck, so I believe we can have some success with linking up with Macca.”
Meanwhile Castleford are to give a month’s trial to soldier and former Harlequins Rugby Union scrum-half Lloyd Wheeldon.
The 24-year-old lance corporal in 3 Para has been granted a temporary release from active service to try his luck in Super League after speaking to former Great Britain halfback Sean Long during his spell with Quins.
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